Saturday September 30, 2023

ISIS attack threat: Saudi embassy in Kabul closed

February 08, 2023
Taliban personnel stand guard along a road near an embassy after a suicide attack in Kabul on September 5, 2022. — AFP/ file
Taliban personnel stand guard along a road near an embassy after a suicide attack in Kabul on September 5, 2022. — AFP/ file

ISLAMABAD: Saudi Arabia has closed its embassy in Kabul over threats of possible attack and its 14 diplomats, including charge d’affaires Abdullah Fahd al-Kahlani, have moved to Islamabad.

The shifting of the diplomats to Pakistan was confirmed by the highly-placed sources at the Foreign Office and Saudi mission on Tuesday.

The Saudi embassy was closed on Friday last after threats of an ISIS attack surfaced. The Afghan foreign ministry also confirmed that diplomats and employees of the embassy had shifted to Pakistan and there was no word about their possible return to Kabul.

The sources indicated that the ISIS was planning a car bombing at the Saudi diplomatic mission in Kabul.

The threats prompted the Saudi authorities to close the embassy and evacuate its employees to Islamabad. Saudi Arabia’s embassy is located in Shash Darak locality, falling under the so-called Green Zone, one of the safest and most secure areas in Kabul.

It has been pointed out that Saudi Arabia is one of the few countries that reopened its embassy in Kabul in November 2021, three months after the Taliban takeover of Kabul, and consigned 14 diplomats to Afghanistan.

Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid disputed the closure of Saudi mission and claimed that the “Saudi diplomats had travelled to Riyadh for training and will return to Kabul after a week or so.”

Since the overthrow of Ashraf Ghani government in August 2021, most diplomatic missions stand closed. As of now, only 12 embassies are operating in Kabul, including Pakistan, Turkey, China, Qatar, the UAE, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Russia, Iran and India.

Over the past couple of months, the ISIS has launched terror attacks on the embassies of Russia and Pakistan, as well as a Chinese-run hotel in the heart of Kabul. The Russian embassy was the target of a suicide bombing at its front gate that killed two Russian staff members and four Afghan citizens.

Pakistan head of mission in Kabul, Ubaid-ur-Rehman Nizamani, also became a victim of a failed assassination attempt. A Pakistani guard who foiled the attempt was seriously wounded. No country of the world has recognised the incumbent administration of Afghanistan.

The sources pointed out that on top of other issues, security remains a critical challenge for the Kabul government. Several countries have run their Afghanistan embassies from Pakistan and Qatar since the US-led foreign coalition forces withdrew from the country and the Taliban took over in 2021 after a 20-year commotion.

The Taliban have said they are focused on eliminating the Islamic State and other security threats and will make all efforts to protect the foreign interests in Afghanistan.